“Good mor – good afternoon, Acme Grommets and Gravel, Pearl speaking.”
“Yes, I would like to order several grommets; and I’m wondering if I could get those without holes?”
“Who gave you this number?”
She laughs. “You keep changing it, but as I told you back in the 80s, I got yer number, Pearlie.”
We laugh. She never said that, but it’s true.
Mary’s got my number.
“So what up, Big M?”
Mary chuckles preemptively. “I got a story for you.”
I smile, set down my Fresca, open up Word and place both hands on the keyboard. “Tell me something good.”
Miss Mary is the reason I have a headset at work.
“Remember that big storm we had the other night?”
I give her the ol’ pshaw. “Girl, you’re talking to someone who takes a prescription sleep aid. I hear nothing.”
“Good to know,” she says. “So you’ll believe me when I tell you that there was a pretty good storm the other night, complete with thunder, lightning, and hail.”
“Hail,” I say.
“Yepper,” she says.
There is a moment’s silence as Mary sips a beverage of some kind. “So you know how Jon sleeps, right?”
“Somewhere on the rock spectrum?”
She laughs, and I know she is nodding. We are, after all, professionals.
“Well it’s gotten even more ridiculous since he got the new job. An hour’s drive there, nine-hour days, an hour home. You know what it’s like when you have a new job.”
I do, indeed.
“He’s been going to bed at, like, 7:00. He wakes only for cigarettes.”
“I thought he quit.”
“I quit,” she says.
“So the other night, he’s been in bed for, seriously, five hours, when, right around midnight, the storm that had been until then just a pretty good storm turned into a truly excellent storm. The hail starts up, and suddenly there’s Jon. He bolts upright, leaps from the bed, snatches the comforter off it, and runs, naked into the backyard.”
I choke. “What?”
“The Harley,” she says. “He runs naked into the backyard with my good comforter to throw it over the bike! Here’s a guy who wouldn’t notice me choking on a porkchop, but he hears hail start up and he’s throwing the winter bedspread over the bike!”
“Your good bedspread!”
“The good bedspread!”
I laugh. “Maybe if you could arrange to choke on that porkchop while astride the bike –“
“—he’d push me off it to keep it from having to wash it later.”
We laugh. “I’ll choke on a porkchop and have it come dislodged when I hit the ground.”
We laugh again. Mary’s voice takes on a contemplative tone. “I wonder if he’d run naked into the backyard to throw a blanket over me so I didn’t get hail damage.”
“There’s only one way to find out,” I say.